Environmental Assessment (Scotland) Act 2005 Aquaculture and Fisheries Bill Consultation Document Environmental Report February 2012

This Environmental Report sets out the results of the assessment of the possible environmental effects of provisions in the Aquaculture and Fisheries Bill.


Current Situation

7.1 In addition to planning consent and a marine licence, a licence must be obtained from SEPA for discharges from finfish aquaculture farms, under the Water Environment (Controlled Activities) (Scotland) Regulations 2011 (CAR) [36] .

7.2 The licence includes limits on biomass, i.e. the amount of fish that can be held in the cages, and on the amount of therapeutant and other medicines that can be administered and discharged.

7.3 Currently, SEPA have the power under CAR to approve, suspend or revoke a biomass consent (in whole or in part) in the event of non-compliance with licence conditions.


7.4 The proposed provisions include powers to Scottish Ministers to require SEPA to reduce the limit on biomass in the site licence (the total allowable volume of salmon on the site), for the farm in question, under certain circumstances.

Potential Effects

7.5 Our understanding is that separate models are used to determine the permitted biomass of a finfish farm and the use of therapeutant, and that these models are not linked. The absence of information available to regulators at the moment means that we do not know the implications of current practice whereby a site may in certain circumstances be licensed to hold a large tonnage of salmon, but only to use a small amount of therapeutant. This may mean that treatments may be ineffective and/or that operators may be tempted to consider inappropriate approaches to managing sea-lice, with associated fish health, environmental and reputational risk.

7.6 These powers are intended to create a link between the licensed biomass and the required volume of therapeutant for the successful management of sea-lice. Improved sea-lice and pathogen control would be a benefit for wild salmonid populations.


7.7 As no significant negative effects from these provisions have been identified, no mitigation measures are required. Given the high-level nature of the provisions, enhancement measures have not been proposed at this stage of the Bill's development.

Effects of Continuing the Status Quo

7.8 Continuing the current situation would result in the continuing risk that treatments may be ineffective, which would have adverse implications for wild salmonid populations.


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